A ficlet in honor of Bathtub Party Day.
Word count: 815
Have you ever heard the expression- If walls could talk? Well, this wall can. Not in the conventional way. But we do at times converse with each other. Some rooms have nothing to talk about, go through their entire lives empty and lonely. And others are so busy I can hear them complaining mightily. I feel for the walls of the kitchen and the great room at times. They are often overwhelmed.
Not to brag, but I think I have the best room in the house. I was lonely for a long time when I was young. I was an extra room that was never used; not even a piece of furniture graced my floor. Then Murdoch and Catherine Lancer moved in and I was used as her sewing room. Before the trouble with the land pirates began, she would sit in her rocking chair and softly hum lullabies, her belly swollen with the promise of a new life. It was a sad day when Catherine went away. Murdoch closed my door; too many memories I heard him say.
Then a few years later, Murdoch married Maria. This time a crib and a dresser and more love than seemed possible moved in. Murdoch loved the dark-haired baby, rocked him every night when he got home. But after only two short years I was lonely again. I only saw Murdoch when he’d walk into my room and stare helplessly at the empty crib.
I was lonely for years after that. Then another war with land pirates brought my dark-haired baby back to me. Only he wasn’t a baby any longer. He was a man. Strong, silent and very angry. At times I almost wished for the quiet again.
That was three years ago. Now I am the happiest room in the house. Scott’s room says she is the happiest…and I’m glad for her…but I know I’m the happiest.
Tonight I wait for Johnny’s return, as I always do at the end of the day. But he has been gone for awhile this time. I hear from the other walls that he was on a business trip and things didn’t go well. The great room walls reported that Murdoch had told Scott that his brother’s accident was not life-threatening, but he would need to stay in bed for a few days to recover.
Teresa and Maria have been in my room all day, cleaning and polishing. Now Murdoch and Scott have carried a tub into the center of the room and a parade of buckets have filled it with steaming hot water.
The great room walls are excited. Johnny has returned. They say he looks tired and is moving slowly, but he is walking on his own. I hear many footsteps walking down the hall and my door is opened.
It is so good to see Johnny again. He does look tired, but a smile pushes away the heavy lines of fatigue when he sees the hot bath.
“Take your time,” Murdoch says. “Sam wants you to rest for a few days so Maria will bring your dinner up later. And please,” he points to a nightshirt folded on the bed, “put that on. I know, you don’t like it, but Teresa and Maria will be in and out and…”
“I understand,” Johnny says with a chuckle.
Scott slaps Johnny lightly on the shoulder. “Go on, Brother, jump in before the water gets cold. I’ll be up in awhile with something a little stronger to warm your insides.”
Johnny nods. I know there are times when words are not needed between these two men who were strangers all their lives. Now they are closer than some brothers who have grown up together.
Scott closes the door and I watch as Johnny slowly pulls off his dirty clothes. He is covered from head to toe with deep bruises and I wonder what happened to him. No one knows…not yet anyway. He will tell them when he feels it’s time. He tests the water with his hand and nods in approval. Then he steps into the tub, slowly folding down into the water.
This is Johnny’s private time. I don’t tell the other walls what I see or what I hear in our room. Johnny groans as he slips deeper into the steaming water, letting it rise up to his chin. It is times like these, when he is alone and totally lets his guard down, that he looks so young, when I can see the little boy who played in his crib so many years ago. I watch the water ripple over his chest, soothing his aching muscles. His eyelids lower and finally slide closed, the soft sound of his snores fill the room.
Yes, I am the luckiest room in the Lancer house…and though it is true that walls can talk, I keep Johnny’s innermost secrets to myself.
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